According to one data compilation, the average student-to-teacher ratio in U.S. public schools is approximately 16 to one. In some states, it’s much higher (24 to one in California and 23 to one in Utah for example.) In individual schools, student–teacher ratios often easily exceed state averages.
As teachers juggle these large-sized classrooms and increased workloads, it can be hard for them to take the time to know and understand each of their students. But each student is an individual with a unique story and personality, and specific strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. And the more teachers know about their individual students, the better chance students will have at academic success.
That’s where parents can play an important role. As a parent, you can be your student’s advocate and convey important information about your child to their teachers. The more your teacher knows about your child, the better their relationship will be.
Here are 10 things to share with your child’s teacher:
1. Does your child have any medical conditions? Sometimes, a student who stares into space and doesn’t seem to be paying attention actually has attention deficit disorder. Sometimes, a child whose writing is sloppy has a neurological condition. Make sure your child’s teacher, counselor, and school nurse are aware of any medical conditions, medications your child takes, allergies, and related symptoms and side effects.
2. Are there specific family issues to be aware of? When parents are separated or going through a divorce, a parent gets remarried, a family member is diagnosed with a serious illness or dies, etc., kids are affected. Teachers need to know, so they can provide extra support.
3. Are there somber anniversaries or significant events in your child’s life? If a parent or sibling has passed away, that anniversary is probably difficult. If a child lived through a traumatic event—such as a natural disaster, that subject matter is probably hard for the student to discuss. Teachers should know so they can be sensitive to those dates and topics.
4. Does your child struggle with a particular subject? If your child is having trouble learning sight words or crying over algebra homework every night, tell the teacher! Extra help is available, but only if a teacher knows it’s needed.
5. What’s your child’s favorite subject? If your child is obsessed with outer space or goes through a book a day, make sure your teacher knows this. They may be able to provide enrichment assignments and can make sure your child is sufficiently challenged when that subject is taught.
6. What stresses your child? Does your child have test-taking anxiety? Do they have a deep-rooted fear of public speaking? Do they worry about making a grade lower than an A? Teachers can’t alleviate these stressors if they don’t know about them.
7. What unique gifts and talents does your child have? Is your daughter an accomplished violinist? Is your son an amazing artist? Do you have an incredibly empathetic child who always befriends kids who seem to need a buddy? Your child has many unique and wonderful qualities. Make sure the teacher is aware of them.
8. Who are your child’s best friends? Teachers appreciate getting a heads-up about student cliques and friend groups. It helps them plan their seating charts, and it empowers them to share pertinent information with you.
9. What motivates your child? Some people are motivated by the promise of a tangible reward—a gold star or a sticker. Some crave positive reinforcement. Some are motivated when there’s the opportunity to win a challenge or a competition. This is useful information to teachers!
10. How does your child learn best? Some students are visual learners who learn most effectively when they see a concept in writing. Others are oral learners and absorb information best when they participate in a discussion about a topic. Others prefer plenty of repetition. This information allows teachers to tailor their lessons and homework assignments. It will also help the teacher to know if your student is an extrovert or introvert, as that can affect how they learn.
We all love to talk about our kids, and teachers appreciate the insight. So don’t be shy!